Bronze crucifixion plaque
Clonmacnoise, County Offaly, Ireland, 10th-11th century

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55. Bronze crucifixion plaque
Hiberno-Viking period (bronze phase), tenth or eleventh century
H. 8.4 em.
Clonmacnoise, County Offaly
NMI, 1935: 506

This hollow-cast bronze openwork plaque is of relatively crude workmanship. It was probably part of the ornament on a larger object-perhaps the central panel of a book cover.
   Christ is depicted in a long-sleeved tunic. The stylized foliage pattern, of Ringerike style, suggests an eleventh century date. The prominent basal hem, in the same style, may have been meant to represent embroidery. The cross is not visible, though the palms of the hands are pierced by nails; the fingers reach the frame; the feet, splayed out against the frame, are not pierced. Christ is pictured alive. Nearly identical supporting angels stand on his arms; their wings are attached to the underside of their bodies. The spirals at the points where the wings are attached form perfect peltae.
   The spongebearer is shown in profile. A long lock of hair falls behind him; both his feet are turned sideways; he appears to be wearing a decorated cloak. He has only one arm, with which he offers the sponge. The lancebearer is shown full face, with splayed-out feet; he wears a decorated tunic; he too has only one arm and clutches a lance, which pierces the side of Christ. The crosses of the malefactors stand on either side of the Christ. The frame is decorated with a punched geometric design.
   A wide range of dates has been suggested, but the tenth or eleventh century seems the most plausible.

Bibliography: IA II, pp. 123, 161, pl. 8; TI, p. 120, fig. 82; M. MacDermott, "An Openwork Crucifixion Plaque from Clonmacnoise," Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 84 ( 1954), pp. 36-40.

Source: Treasures of early Irish art, 1500 B.C. to 1500 A.D 71MB pdf



Illustrations of Irish Costume & Soldiers
10th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers